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Cyclone Hudhud hits east coast, four killed in Andhra, Odisha
Monday October 13, 2014 1:01 AM, IANS

Cyclonic storm Hudhud hit the Andhra Pradesh coast Sunday, triggering heavy rains and strong gales, which wrecked havoc in the state's coastal region killing three people while one more death was reported from neighbouring Odisha.

Cyclone Hudhud
[A view of Cyclone Hudhud with heavy rain fall inside the Naval Harbour, North of Visakhapatnam on October 12, 2014.]

The heavy downpour accompanied by powerful winds with speeds reaching up to 185 kmph uprooted trees, felled electricity and communication towers and caused widespread destruction to crops in Andhra Pradesh.

The districts of Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam are without electricity since Saturday night. Mobile telephones were not working in the region as communication network collapsed.

With trees and poles falling on highways, the vehicular traffic came to a complete halt while railways cancelled all services in the region.

The "very severe cyclonic storm" in the Bay of Bengal started crossing the coast around noon at Pudimadaka, about 50 km from Visakhapatnam.

People were confined to their homes through the day as strong gales felled scores of trees, power and communication towers and hoardings. Many cars parked on roads were damaged.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said in Hyderabad that the eye of the storm crossed the coast but it may take some hours for the entire system to cross. He appealed to people to remain indoors till evening.

With the authorities losing contact with the radar tracking the cyclone, they were finding it difficult to provide information about the impact and wind speed. Naidu quoted the navy as putting the gale speed at 185 kmph.

"We don't have a mechanism to assess the damages as the communication network has collapsed," said Naidu, before leaving for coastal Andhra by road.

The cyclone disrupted the functioning of the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre, which lost contact with the radar tracking the cyclone. Officials were relying on the navy radar for information.

Officials said 320 villages in four districts of Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari were affected.

Two people were killed in Visakhapatnam while another died in Srikakulam district. Two deaths occurred due to falling trees and one due to a wall collapse.

Naidu announced a compensation of Rs.5 lakh each to the families of those killed, Rs.1 lakh for critically injured and Rs.50,000 for other injured.

In Odisha, an official said a man died on the Puri coast as he tried to save his fishing boat, taking the total deaths to three after two people were killed when a boat engaged to evacuate people capsized in Kendrapada district Saturday. Heavy downpour continued to lash the state and inundated many areas.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who held a review meeting Sunday, said the government was closely monitoring the situation to deal with possible floods.

Meanwhile, the armed forces were waiting for the civil administration's directions to launch rescue and relief operations in the cyclone affected regions of both states, with all three service deploying teams and assets at key spots for rapid deployment

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Naidu over phone and assured all help to the state. Naidu later urged the central government to declare cyclone Hudhud a national calamity and provide Rs.2,000 crore as an interim relief package.

Modi was later briefed on the situation in the area by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, who chaired a review meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC).

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in the afternoon that the cyclone will lose half its intensity in six hours.

"The cyclone, after crossing the coast, will lose its intensity rapidly because the terrain is mountainous," IMD director general L.S. Rathore said in New Delhi.

"Within six hours, it will lose wind speed by 50 percent and in another six hours it will lost another 50 percent speed and become a depression," said Rathore.

Apart from Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, heavy rainfall will also be experienced in Chhattisgarh, eastern Madhya Pradesh, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Telangana, the official said.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh is using latest technology tools to gather firsthand information about the destruction, with Naidu appealing to people to upload pictures and videos of uprooted trees, breached roads, damaged crops and inundated areas.

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